Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I don't want to be a shit-disturber, but really.....

So......I have been struggling with something.  I work for the Government of Canada.  We have a policy that says that we are not to book meetings or do business with places that are inaccessible.  Yet the department I work in consistently books some meetings (mostly for social reasons such as retirement or going away parties) at a nearby venue...an air force mess hall...that is completely inaccessible.  Stairs to get in, and more stairs once you get in.  I can't tell you the number of times over the years in which I have declined invitations to one event or another at this location, and explained why I cannot attend.  Recently, I learned that a colleague had booked a work-related meeting at this venue.  I thought, "I have to do, or say, something".  I know that these incidents are never intentional.  And the people booking the meetings probably never stop to think about what they are doing, and the attitudes they are reinforcing.  They probably think, if they stop to think, well no-one coming to the meeting is disabled, so it's not really an issue. And I wonder how they would react if the same venue had a sign outside that said, "blacks not welcome", or "women not allowed", or "no Jews".  Because a venue that is not accessible is saying that people like me are not welcome, that we are not valued, that we are not part of the community.

So I am going to raise this issue at our next management meeting.  And I hope that my colleagues will agree that if someone discriminates against one of us, they discriminate against all of us. And maybe, if this venue loses a regular clientele, they will do something about their lack of access.


  1. Yazmine - if you are back I'd love to try to connect our schedules for half an hour just to check in - in an accessible venue of course ;)

    With respect to your comments about making what you've learned stick one of the things I wanted to do if/when I become an EX is to simply have a list of things I don't want to do, and things I want to aspire to.

    Make the list, print it, and put in your office where you and others can see it. Ask others to have the courage to hold you accountable to those things. If they can't do that, find people who can.



  2. YL, you said it....why do we rent venues against our policy? It's time to speak up. I appreciate your perspective because I am sure people think that not being accessible is just an inconvenience, but they don't stop to think about the message they are communicating. How come you can travel around the world in 21 days but you can't get across the street to a meeting you should be attending. This doesn't add up. (BTW Char....like your comment)